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The Complete Guide to Solar Panels in Scotland

Solar panels can cut Scottish homes' electricity bills by 63%, on average 

Homeowners can save up to £6,000 with the Scotland Home Energy Loan

CARES provides funding for solar project planning to community organisations

Solar panel costs are coming down, and people in Scotland are taking advantage. There are more than 148,000 Scottish households with solar panels, and Solar Energy UK has predicted the country's solar capacity will more than treble by 2030.

Fortunately, the Scottish government has made it easy for you to get solar panels and cut your electricity bills, which is huge during a cost of living crisis.

On this page, we’ll tell you about government grants and loans for solar panels.

You can also compare solar panel prices, with our help. Simply enter a few details and we'll put you in touch with our expert installers, who'll get back to you with free solar panel quotes for you to compare.

Where do you want to install solar panels?

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Are solar panels worth it in Scotland?

Whether you have solar panels in Edinburgh, Glasgow, or the Highlands, they're more than worth it in Scotland, as they cut the average household's electricity bills by 63%.

A standard 3.5 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar panel system in Scotland costs £7,642 and generates 2,370 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

This is enough to power half of your home's electricity, allowing you to sell the remaining solar energy to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee.

Overall, the average three-bedroom household can save £466 per year with solar panels – meaning they're well worth the investment.

When do you break even on solar panels in Scotland?

The average household will break even on solar panels in Scotland after 16.4 years.

This leaves you with at least a decade to enjoy the pure profit that comes with the free solar electricity your panels produce.

The UK's break-even point is lower than Scotland's, but at 15.1 years, it's not a huge difference.

We've assumed you'll get a solar array that provides you with enough electricity to power half of your home's needs – for example, a 3.5 kW system would achieve this for the average three-bedroom house.

You can then sell your excess solar energy back to the grid, which will typically mean an overall saving of 63% on your electricity bills.

Do solar panels work in Scottish weather?

Solar panels work very well in Scottish weather, producing enough energy to power your home with free electricity around half the time.

This is partly because solar panels work on cloudy days and don't require direct sunlight, which – given the weather of Scotland and the UK as a whole – is great news.

What’s more, Scotland has been no stranger to extremely sunny summers in recent years.

A study by WWF Scotland found that since 2017, homes with solar panels have generated more than 100% of typical household electricity needs in seven different cities, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee.

A summer heatwave in 2018, for instance, broke Scottish solar power records in multiple places. Solar panels provided Aberdeen with 136% of its average household electricity demand, and provided Lerwick with 117%.

How much do solar panels cost in Scotland?

House sizeNo. of panels neededCostTonnes of CO2 saved / yearSavings / yearYears to break even

1-2 bedrooms






3 bedrooms






4+ bedrooms






Solar panels cost £7,642 on average in Scotland for a 3.5 kW solar panel system, including installation.

Solar panels are continuing to fall in price, which is great news for the 69% of people who ranked cost as the most important factor when buying green in our latest National Home Energy Survey.

Where do you want to install solar panels?

Get started

Are there grants for solar panels in Scotland?

Yes, you can now receive grants for solar panels via Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan.

This government scheme can provide you with up to £6,000 towards a solar panel system for your home, at 0% interest.

Most community organisations and charities can also receive funding for solar panels and other renewable energy sources with the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES).


What it's worth

Who is eligible

How to apply

Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan

Up to £6,000

Scotland residents only

Apply via the Home Energy Scotland website

Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES)

Up to £80,000 for community building projects

Community organisations and charities

Fill in an application form on the Local Energy Scotland website

VAT reduction

0% VAT on solar panel purchases

All UK residents

VAT reduction automatically applied

Smart Export Guarantee

Up to 29.3p per kWh of electricity sold back to the grid

Electricity generating solar panel owners

Contact your energy supplier and fill in an application form

Warmer Homes Scotland

Up to 100% of the costs

Energy-inefficient households on certain benefits, or with a member who is either over 75 years or has certain medical certificates

Apply via the Home Energy Scotland website

ECO4 Scotland

Up to 100% of the costs

Low-income, energy-inefficient households on certain benefits

Contact a participating energy supplier

The Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan

Home Energy Scotland Loan Flowchart

If you’re living in Scotland and think it’s time your home switched to solar power, the Scottish government is happy to lend a financial hand.

The Home Energy Scotland Loan is a scheme available to homeowners who want to make ‘energy improvements’ to their household. These improvements include:

• Heating systems, e.g. gas, oil, or LPG boilers

• Double glazing and secondary glazing

• Renewable energy systems, e.g. solar panels

• Energy storage systems, e.g. solar batteries

The maximum amount of money available for a solar panel installation loan is £6,000, which is close to the typical cost of a 3.5 kWp solar PV system.

The loan is completely interest-free, and is repayable across five years (if you borrow less than £5,000) or 10 years (if you borrow £5,000 or more).

Read our complete guide to the Home Energy Scotland Loan for more information.

All homeowners in Scotland are allowed to apply, and each applicant’s credit rating is assessed to determine if they are eligible. Please note that successful applicants have to pay an administrative fee, which is 1.5% of the total amount being borrowed.

The Scottish government suggests that you don’t start installing solar panels until you’ve officially received the loan offer in writing. If you start installing them beforehand, you won't eligible for the loan.

If you receive a loan, you’ll be given up to six months to borrow the money and have the solar panels installed.

How to apply

To apply for the loan, you need to call Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282. You can also ask for a call back or for an email.

You'll then be advised on which option is best for you. When you've made a decision, you'll have to complete an online application form.

Community and Renewable Energy Scheme

The Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) was set up to encourage local communities across Scotland to adopt more renewable energy sources, including solar panels.

It works by allocating funding for community organisations and charities, with different rounds of funding being released on a regular basis.

It can cover up to 80% of costs for projects on community buildings, and acts as a support network for communities to use for help with setting up renewable projects.

Visit Local Energy Scotland for more information on when new funding is allocated, and for details on how to apply.

CARES funding is available to non-profit community organisations, faith groups, and charities. Applicants also need to be operating within a defined geographical area.

How to apply

To apply for CARES, you need to first go to their project portal. If you're eligible, you'll then need to complete an application form and indicate the technology you need funding for and submit quotes you've received from installers.

0% VAT rate on solar panels

There has been 0% VAT on solar panel purchases since April 2022, meaning solar panels are the cheapest they've ever been. Before becoming Prime Minister, then Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “A family having a solar panel installed will see tax savings worth over £1,000 and savings on their energy bill of over £300 per year.”

The VAT reduction will end April 2027, so if you can afford to get solar panels within the next five years, definitely consider doing so.

To find out more, read our complete guide to VAT for solar panels.

Anyone living in England, Scotland, or Wales will pay 0% VAT on solar panels.

The cut does not apply to people living in Northern Ireland, though some residents are eligible for a reduced rate of 5% VAT if they are on certain benefits.

How to apply

You do not need to apply for 0% VAT on solar panels, since the cut will already be reflected in the quote you are given by your installer.

The Smart Export Guarantee

Since 1 January 2020, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) has required all large UK energy providers (those with 150,000+ customers) to pay homeowners for any renewable electricity they export to the National Grid.

Suppliers now offer as much as 29.3p per kWh, meaning you can earn more than you could from the UK government's now-defunct Export Tariff. The average household in Scotland can now save £142 per year.

Of course, this is on top of expected energy bill savings, for an overall saving of £466 per year.

To get the full lowdown, check out our detailed guide to the Smart Export Guarantee.

To be eligible for the Smart Export Guarantee, you need to generated electricity through your solar panels.

Your solar panel installation also can't exceed a capacity of 5 MW – much higher than wat most domestic households require – and you need to have a export metre or smart metre installed.

How to apply

To apply, contact your energy supplier, and fill in their application form. They'll usually advise you on how to make sure all their requirements are met.

You'll need to provide your Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate, or an equivalent document if you have one.

If you don't have one, make sure that your installer is certified and ask your SEG company what information you need to provide.

You’ll also need to provide your export MPAN. This is a 13-number reference used to identify your electricity connection point.

solar panels on houses in scotland

Warmer Homes Scotland

Warmer Homes Scotland provides funding for home improvements to make homes warmer and reduce energy bills. This includes funding for renewable technology such as solar panels.

It’s worth noting though that the scheme is more focused on home improvements such as heating and insulation, so getting approved to install solar panels through it might be tricky.

To be eligible for a Warmer Homes Scotland grant, you must be a homeowner, or a tenant of a private-sector landlord, and have lived in the property for at least six months.

Your home also needs to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Property has a poor energy rating
  • Has a floor area of 230m2 or less
  • Meets Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 standards
  • Has a council tax band of A-F

Your household also needs to either have no central heating and include someone who is over 75, or include someone who has a DS1500 or BASRiS medical certificate, or someone who is on certain benefits.

You can find the full criteria on Home Energy Scotland’s page.

How to apply

Assessments for the Warmer Homes Scotland grant are now on pause, but they’ll reopen again in October 2023. In the meantime, you can still submit an application, but it won’t be assessed until the scheme reopens.

To apply, you can call Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282, or use their online tool.

The ECO4 Scheme

ECO4 is the fourth iteration of the Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO), and provides funding to help low-income households primarily for heating upgrades and insulation.

The scheme can also provide funding for solar panels if they are used to power an electrical heating system, such as a heat pump or an electric boiler.

Funding is available through ECO4 from July 2022 until March 2026.

To be eligible for ECO4, your household income must be less than £31,000 a year, or you must be receiving certain benefits – you can find the full list on Ofgem’s website.

You can also become eligible if you are referred for the ECO4 scheme by your local authority, energy supplier, or doctor.

And, you need to live in a property that has an energy efficiency rating between D and G if you’re a homeowner. For rental properties or social housing, it needs to be between E and G.

How to apply

To apply for ECO4, you need to get in touch with one of the energy suppliers that is offering funding through the scheme. This doesn’t need to be your current supplier, and you can contact more than one.

Here’s a list of suppliers that you can contact about ECO4:

  • British Gas
  • E (Gas & Electricity) Ltd
  • E.ON Energy (including Npower)
  • Ecotricity
  • EDF
  • Octopus Energy
  • Outfox the Market
  • OVO (Including SSE Energy Services)
  • Scottish Power
  • Shell Energy (formerly First Utility and formerly Hudson)
  • So Energy (Including ESB Energy)
  • The Co-operative Energy
  • The Utility Warehouse
  • Utilita Energy Ltd

You can find all their contact details on Ofgem’s website.

After getting in touch with a supplier, you’ll be asked to provide them with details on your income, any benefits you are on, and your home’s energy efficiency rating.

Want to get a better idea of what it’s like to own a set of solar panels? Check out our case study with Shirley Ward – a 73-year-old retired office worker, based in North Yorkshire. 

Shirley has a 2.4 kW solar array and a Solax battery, and managed to break even on the system in 10 years. Despite electricity prices increasing around the world, Shirley’s panels have brought her energy bills down to £15 a month, instead of £50. 

Check out the full interview with Shirley to learn more about solar panels. 

How many people in Scotland have solar panels?

There are more than 148,000 homes with solar panels in Scotland, according to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Solar panels in Scotland are rapidly rising in popularity, with the first six months of 2023 seeing 13,175 solar installations — a 29% increase compared to the same period in 2022.

In 2009, just 24 households in Scotland installed solar panels. We've come a long way from then.

57% of Scotland's electricity was renewable in 2021, and we expect that number to rise in the future, as Scotland clearly has a long-term commitment to green energy.

Finding an installer

If the Home Energy Scotland Loan has ignited your ambitions and you’d like to start powering your home with the sun, you've chosen an excellent time.

After all, 65% of people would now buy a house with solar panels, according to our latest National Home Energy Survey.

The next step is finding out how much solar panels will cost you.

Luckily, we can make this step a million times easier. All you have to do is simply fill in this short form, and our qualified installers will be in touch shortly with free quotes for you to compare.

For more information, check out our handy guides to solar panel costs, the best solar panels, and the best solar panel installers.


As of March 2019 the Feed-in Tariff is no longer available. It’s been replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which lets homeowners with solar panels sell the excess electricity they produce back to the National Grid, via their energy providers.

If you signed up for the Feed-in Tariff scheme before it ended, you will still receive payments for the full duration of your contract (usually 20 years).

Yes, it's worth getting solar panels in Scotland, because there's still more than enough light throughout the year to power half of your electricity.

Even though Scotland sees more cloudy days than much of the rest of the UK, solar panels continue to work under both light and heavy cloud cover.

Expect solar panels to become around 24% less efficient under light cloud cover, and around 67% less efficient under heavy cloud cover.

The average three-bedroom house requires around 10 panels of 350 watts, which will generate approximately 2,370 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year.

A smaller house, one to two-bedrooms, will need around six 350-watt panels. A large four-bedroom house will need around 14 of the same panels.

Written by:
josh jackman
Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.
Reviewed by:
Charlie has been researching and writing about the home energy market for over five years, and he has been the editor of The Eco Experts since 2021. Charlie's thoughts on solar panels have seen him featured in various publications, including The Times, Ideal Home, and Grand Designs Magazine. Ever since he can remember, Charlie has worried about the planet, and he one day dreams of owning a solar power farm.
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